William Thien

Archive for May 2011

When the fine young president George Bush Jr. brought forth the idea of Faith Based Initiatives I was exclaiming then to members of a conservative email list that this signified the end of the separation of church and state. People were surprised. It seemed like a major digression away from small government and involved the incorporation of religious behavior on to the tax rolls, something the founding fathers of this country worked hard to prevent in The Constitution of The United States.

But in reality the end of the separation of church and state (church as state) happened decades before Faith Based Initiatives when private religious universities and colleges began receiving student aid and loans even at the very least subsidized by the federal government (the taxpayers).

It goes even further today with the advent of public school voucher programs where private elementary and high schools of a religious nature now receive public taxpayer dollars in the form of school vouchers to cover the cost of tuition. Doesn’t matter really what religion they are, or the nature of the particular religion, whether they be secretly fundamentalist or radical, if they are bona fide voucher schools, they get our money.

Now, I’m not against religion. You know that. But there is a very good reason for the separation of church and state. For one, how do you regulate the types and forms of the various religions taught in the variety of schools that receive taxpayer funds? You don’t. The bureaucracy required to do something like that would be another crushing weight to the taxpayer. And so once the ideal of the separation of church and state was punctured by the ideal of insuring our population was educated, even by the so-called finest and most prestigious and exclusive, religious schools, the money began to flow and it hasn’t stopped since. What the country’s founding fathers had exorcised by design from this country’s political makeup has now possessed the body politic of America.

Now not only must the taxpayer fight bureaucracy to see that their taxes are kept in line, the bureaucracy suddenly has a far more powerful advocate on its side, religion, superstition. Faith Based initiatives made keeping your taxes down much more difficult. Now religion is at the public trough as well. This to me seems like the most significant reason our country’s founding fathers wanted to declare the separation in the first place. It is expensive to believe in God. Now the taxpayer is not only fighting bureaucracy, he, she, is fighting God as well.

Add to that we are foisting much religious nonsense on our most impressionable, the children. Will God ever forgive us? Of course, if we pay our taxes.

So, I don’t really know why I was so surprised at the advent of Faith Based Initiatives. The end of the separation of church and state ended a long time ago, long before George Bush Jr.

And you wonder why your taxes are so high. In the name of The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit…

Copyright © William Thien 2011

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First of all, before I begin this commentary, let me say that I believe in conspiracy theories. Anytime two people are involved in murder, the charges when they are caught are often called “Conspiracy to Commit Murder.” And that’s only two people. What happens when you have hundreds? Furthermore, war is by definition a form of a conspiracy, though often it is not defined as a crime.

And let me add that in the capture and neutralization of Osama Bin Laden our military has shown exemplary performance that perhaps this country has never seen before.

With that said…

If I recall correctly a co-worker told me someone had just telephoned him to tell him a plane hit the World Trade Centers and it was on TV. We were painting the lines on a football field at the time. Let’s go inside and watch the news, he said.

Just as we entered the office the second plane hit the second tower.

Now, for the last ten years, the country has been held hostage by a war designed to catch Osama Bin Laden, the supposed mastermind of the attack. Our civil liberties have suffered incredibly during this time. Blanket, warrant less searches are the norm now. We have shed many basic freedoms. As a country we have less, much less. Our babies and elderly women, you know the ladies that like to wear those flowery dresses that look like billowy sheets are being patted down and strip searched at the airport.

And if I recall correctly, the country was at the time of the attacks in a very introspective yet positive mood politically. There was, due to the advent of the internet, great and open political discussion that was gaining traction in the real political world. People were excited. There was a certain mood of political self-realization and hope for the disenfranchised and those not traditionally part of the country’s vast political landscape. The status quo was changing. And fast!

You may already know where I am going with this. You may already know I am going to suggest that Osama Bin Laden and the terrorists didn’t quite act alone, if you know what I mean. But why? What’s the motive? Stay with me.

Due to the newly discovered openness of the internet en masse there was a great political momentum that I believe our government and the various political apparatuses didn’t understand. And they were afraid. They were afraid of what the internet could do to the political makeup of the country. They had never seen anything like such online electronic gathering, discussion, and organization. And they were losing control. What before was a stifled populace was suddenly speaking out in organized, effective ways on email lists and open online forums about any and everything that needed change. Things were going to change, it was clear.

Enter Osama Bin Laden. Now, I can only speculate about this, but having worked on assignment from The US Army to The National Security Agency I have always believed it is unlikely Osama Bin Laden would have been successful with the attack given the structure of the US Intelligence apparatus at the time I was employed as an analyst. When the story came to light about the World Trade Center attacks I immediately concluded that he had help from within, you could say. I am probably wrong, but Osama Bin Laden was once employed rather directly by The United States in another capacity. Why not twice? He did quite well in his first role.

And if he is not still alive in some holding cell somewhere or living well somewhere secretly in comfort, I have seen nothing to indicate my meager theory is incorrect. And the fact that he was killed as reported recently and his body buried at sea seems, I say “seems” like our government was attempting to get rid of the evidence, that more than anything they were concerned about revelations of collusion. Maybe that was Osama’s next big attack! The revelation that The US hired him as it had in the past. Maybe his terrorist days were over but he still wanted to be a big man on the world terrorist scene. Maybe that is why after having known for some time where he was we suddenly decided to act. Osama was going public.

And I can debunk my own theories by simply recalling the Blind Cleric Omar Abdel-Rahman, known as “The Blind Sheikh” who was implicated in the first World Trade Center Bombings in 1993 by simply stating that The World Trade Centers have been a target of radical Muslim fundamentalists long before 9/11.

Who really knows? But does it really matter? Not in the context of this discussion. And personally, I’m not certain there are enough rogue personnel in the American Intelligence business to enable something so vast as what occurred on 9/11. True, evidence, obvious evidence acquired by our own internal security mechanism, The FBI, seems to have been overlooked that could have prevented the attacks. And this is in itself sufficient reason to raise a question about the origination of the event. But it is not sufficient evidence to implicate anyone in The US.

What is important is that new software run by super computers was suddenly brought online to skim all of the talk on the internet in the so-called search for terrorists. People’s emails were checked by such programs as Predator for possible terrorist activity. It would seem it was as if THE INTERNET ITSELF were the target. Our credit cards are now all monitored and profiled. This supposed protective posture actually stifled open political discussion overnight. The silent majority suddenly doubled. Open political discussion was suddenly stifled as this new war redefined the world. Who wants to be labeled “a terrorist?” The World Trade Center attacks put a sudden stop to what was incredible about the internet and what was miraculous about the time in the history of our country, that you didn’t have to be in the same room to discuss something in front of lots of people or even be there at the same time. You could do it on the internet.

So, if there is one thing that is significant about the demise of Osama Bin Laden it is that we should no longer let the war on terror divert us as it did whether accidentally or by design from our goals as countrymen who found this new age, the internet age, to our liking and to our benefit as a way to make this country a better place to live in.

We have work to do. I’m sure you will agree, perhaps now more than ever. I think you all know what I mean.

Let’s dig up those old discussions we were having when the World Trade Center attacks happened. Let’s get those old emails out! Let’s get back to where we were and carry on.

Most importantly, let us not be afraid to move forward. Because more than anything, I believe that is what they want for us to be, they want for us to be afraid. Fear, it would seem, has all along been their grip. Let me, let us, loosen the hold.

Copyright © William Thien 2011

For some reason “The Collective” has taken interest in me again, recently, in particular with the notion that we are many and you are just “one.” They want to instill in me that I must be afraid, afraid of many things and in particular, afraid of their numbers. They want me to know, they have told me in so many ways that “we have our eyes on you” and we can make your life difficult, that there could be “a reaction” to each and every thing you do. Certain local politicians appear to have formed an alliance against me and have begun to throw innuendo and school yard taunts at me apparently out of fear that I am some sort of threat to their perpetual life as professional politicians, that my rhetoric undermines their life in political perpetuity as they lose one election and win another completely different office, and if there is anything a politician doesn’t like, it is when you undermine their chances at political perpetuity. And as the massive, shifting, fickle weight of the collective begins to collapse inwardly upon them they have begun finger pointing and name calling, acting out little skits in my vicinity for my benefit, indications that they can no longer sustain their own weighty ideals with their own finances and are looking to perpetuate their massive and socialistically “lofty” existence at the expense of others who wish not to contribute to, participate in their way of life. But they want you to have no choice. They are great in number, they tell you, and therefore they are right. And you must be afraid. It’s one of the most obvious faults with democratic forms of government, that simply because the most people agree on something, whatever it is they agree upon is right. Such circumstances are a tyranny against the individual, particularly when the individual brings no harm to the masses. These circumstances have caused me to want to re-visit one of my earliest and most popular essays for the benefit of the reader who may have joined after the The Individual vs. The Collective was first published.

So, once again ladies and gentlemen here is The Individual vs. The Collective.

The Individual vs. The Collective

I have been chastised for chastising the “collective.” Socialism. Big government.

My government has placed me under surveillance for complaining about its girth.

In the past companies have shunned my quests for employment for fear that they would be targeted by the government and blacklisted from the lucrative socialist/communist government money train.

Some of my previous employers have sent waves of toxic innuendo at me or harassed me to demonstrate their allegiance to the “collective.” They have placed me in deliberately compromising positions with hopes of the same.

In the past certain pseudo paramilitary elements of municipal governments in which I have resided have harassed me for fear that my rhetoric would lead to the loss of their cushy, secretive collective preserving jobs. Hold it, do you mean they are using tax dollars to harass people who believe they are paying too many taxes? Yes. That is exactly what I mean.

I have found myself alone many times mostly because those that believe in what I say are afraid to show it by associating with me. And sometimes I warn them not to associate with me, for their own good. There once more I stand alone. Perhaps cornered.

And that is why I will almost always side with the individual over the “collective.” Because I have dealt with the weight of the “collective” many times. And I know its weight, all of it, is worth less than the weight of the individual and his or her rights.

The problem with socialism, or the “collective,” the most common form of municipal and federal government today, is that it is based on assumptions that I believe are not from my point of view socially, and probably more importantly, economically viable.

For example, the assumption that I should have to pay for someone else’s living quarters (rent assistance) if they are pregnant out-of-wedlock or for their sustenance and that of their child whether unborn or born, even though I do not know them and probably will never, is to me a losing proposition, much like a sucker bet.

It is an assumption based on the fact that the illicit child born of the unmarried mother may some day defend me in a military action or a police action or some day discover a new medicine that will save thousands of lives and that the child is to me a “social investment” or a form of social “enrichment.” But statistics indicate that quite the opposite will happen. Statistics indicate that it is far more likely that the person born to an unwed mother and raised through the benefit of social welfare programs, those programs developed and perpetuated by the “collective,” is much more likely to assault someone I know or steal my property, break in to my house.

Furthermore, the assumption of the “collective” is that we are all of the same country, we are countrymen, and therefore should support one another even in such sexually indiscreet situations as women having children out-of-wedlock. But I believe that too is a false assumption, an assumption about my fellow countrymen that does not exist in any constitutional document about “social responsibility,” an assumption that is a overbearance upon the individual merely for the benefit of “the collective,” an ideal which reveals that were we to examine our tax law today and compare it to that of even just fifty years ago, we would find yields very little return on the original investment, ROI.

We get less for our tax dollars than we did fifty years ago. Yet we pay many times more than we did fifty years ago.

Unless of course you approve of the ideals of “the collective.” Then, you are in. You get the check. And the people who decide who receives a check get a pretty nice check themselves. And you know what they are really into? They are really in to the “collective.” Now it is getting very expensive. Because not only do we pay for those who receive the benefit of the “collective,” we must pay for those who deliver the benefit of the “collective.” And they may be just as or more expensive than the benefit delivered.

Now, I believe the government is large enough and powerful enough to create a situation that would reflect the circumstances I have just described and twist them to make me in some context feast on my own words. Or perhaps someone from within a collective within the “collective” I describe, perhaps a secretive political organ will take action against me. And perhaps that concerns me just as much as the situation I describe.

But no. That is a selfish thought. Because I am not the only one effected by these circumstances. I am not the only one trapped by the persistent debt of taxation meant to pay for all of these social programs, all of these devices meant to protect and in fact most likely grow “the collective.”

Another assumption the “collective” makes is that we, the collective, are big. And you, the individual, are small, and therefore you must do what the “collective” says. This is probably the most pervasive factor of the “collective.” The collective is a bully.

Therefor the assumption I have been describing, the assumption that the “collective” makes has been of course proven statistically false, to a great extent I might add, because one can further look at urban areas and see that is where most crime resides, for example. The cost per capita in urban areas is reflected in the generally higher property taxes and fees. It is also where most unwed mothers reside. The urban area is the central locus of the “collective.”

I am sure there are rural hotspots of illicit motherhood that may even rival concentrations in urban areas as well, so let me not single out the city. For the cities are often the great activity machines that drive our economy, even though we strangle them with more and more social programs while we grow the “collective.”

Now of course there are probably very good examples of children that grew up entirely through a system of welfare and have made great strides in many disciplines that have led to the benefit of mankind. Though this argument is not about “the children.” It is about the result of the “collective.” So let us not change the subject for the benefit of the “collective.” Because ultimately we need only to know that children born and raised in the “collective” are much more likely to go astray or become themselves wards of the “collective.” Whew, did you notice how expensive things, by things I mean the “collective,” were getting?

And so is that what the great “collective” was meant to do for America? Was it meant for massive abuses resulting from sexual indiscretions and extreme costs to the taxpayer with little return? Was it meant to grow government way beyond its most efficient capacity? Or was it some form of political obsolescence meant to undermine America?

Well, let us get off the subject of unwed mothers because that is not the only economic black hole sucking up all of our tax dollars. It is just one of the most egregious and expensive ones.

Let us simply examine the “individual” vs. the “collective.”

The thing about the collective to me that is so obvious is that the collective is really made up of a large number of individuals. I am not talking about people who merely agree on one idea, but people who cannot agree on one idea without the addition of taxation for socialist programs. The collective is not about how many people agree on one thing. We can all agree on one thing without it being so toxic as to tax us into poverty. The collective cannot exist without taxes. That is the collective I am talking about.

When I use the term “individual” I am referring to perhaps one set of ideas or one type of behavior and a large number of individuals may have many ideas and many differing behaviors which makes it difficult to lump them all together and say they are “one” in a truly homogenous way.

But a collective is not like that. A collective is blander, there is less variety in the collective than there is in having a large number of individuals. By definition a “collective” is all for one idea or value system with no variation. We can see this in history. The Soviet Union, the first giant collective, tried to erase all of the cultures and languages of eastern Europe and make them one. In other words, the collective will subjugate the individual for the benefit of the collective. The collective is a tyrant.

Those of us who still know how to read know that the Soviet Union was enormously expensive and was an economic failure of gigantic proportions. In the Soviet Union the government did it all including the distribution of food. It was abysmal. Even more sinister, it was addictive. It made the population dependent upon the “collective.” And when the collective failed and went away an entire region of the earth went through social-economic withdrawals of massive proportions. (As an aside we can see something similar happening today in American politics as conservatives throughout the United States attempt to reign in government expenditure and various segments of society face losing a variety of entitlements and government subsidies to which they have been surviving off of for generations) When the Soviet Union collapsed, there was massive unemployment, starvation, and homelessness.

So why are we trying so hard here in America to be like the Soviet Union was with all of our own social programs and laws? What good will it do us economically if we are unable to create variety, technological or whatever type of variety to say propel our own economy? And who is behind it? And why does it cost so much? Where are all of my tax dollars going? It is difficult to fathom the costs of the collective because it is so vast!

And that’s where I have gotten into trouble when I refer to our government’s girth. Like any other organization, our government at every level is made up of people, and like any other organization, it wants to grow, to perpetuate itself. And the best way to grow government is by making sure government does everything. And the best way to make sure the government does everything is to make sure everything is done the same way, which can be different from one day to the next, such as in a “collective.”

And that is why I will almost always side with the individual over the “collective.” Because I have dealt with the weight of the “collective” many times. And I know its fickle, shifting weight, all of it, is worth less than the weight of the individual and his or her individual rights.

Copyright © William Thien 2010, 2011

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